Unification News for

December 1997


Ideology and the Political Process

This article that first appeared in these pages more then five years ago. I am republishing it as the issues remain as sharp, and the news media as confused as ever.

Politics is a fascinating subject. Many religious people claim to be staying out of such "sordid, worldly" activities. Actually, staying out is not as easy as it sounds. The American Founders roundly denounced certain Quakers who claimed to be doing so.

Other believers won’t "leave politics to the ungodly." Some have supported small-country, Marxist liberation movements. Others have backed some "to the right of Attila the Hun" type candidate. We Unificationists ought to understand such matters, as it is going on all around us.

The Divine Principle contains a good synopsis of the history of civilization, and of politics. From primitive tribes, to fortified cities with a God-King, to developing nations with distinct philosophies. Today we refer to such ideas as "-isms." Look up words like: democracy, republic, socialist, fascist, etc. Some newer dictionaries have "revised" their meaning. It’s interesting to compare!

Similar confusion surrounds terms such as "conservative" and "liberal." To the news media, American conservatives want to cut the government and its programs, while Russian conservatives want to rebuild a monolithic, Stalinist government. The terms are now so twisted that they’re practically useless.

Dr. Skousen

I am grateful to a good man I’ve met, constitutional scholar Dr. Cleon Skousen, for teaching a much simpler method of analyzing this. (See chart. It has changed a lot in five years!) When I visited Macedonia in 1991, the people were excited about their impending national independence. They spoke of "building democracy." I pointed out that the United States isn’t really a democracy, but rather a "constitutional republic." And the scale carries further right, even into anarchy. (As their neighbor Bosnia soon managed to do.) And, as with the French Revolution, anarchy is fertile soil for a Napoleon.

The United States was founded as a genuinely new kind of nation, with a bold, untried ideology. Where government has a clear and limited role, and common people have rights and responsibilities, and can lead their lives as they see fit. It wasn’t perfect, as the Civil War was to prove. But it brought about freedom and prosperity unheard of in world history. (Read Thomas Paine’s classic works.)

Americans have always mistrusted government, and with good reason. We want freedom and privacy, and government always wishes to trade these for "security."

The national government must handle certain functions, such as defense, treaties, and immigration. Also the issuing of secure money, and the oversight of large projects like dams. It has several other constitutional functions, but not many.

In the modern world, government has expanded its role to the battle against disease and farm pests, and the assigning of radio and TV frequencies. Also, insuring the safety of public transportation, foods and medicines. Lastly, supporting the largest scientific undertakings, such as space exploration and nuclear research.

An aside: count how many of these are only needed because this is a fallen world.

Too much government

Problems develop when "big government" steps in-especially where we were doing just fine on our own. When government "wants to help you," look out!

The droughts of the 1930s inspired "temporary relief" programs for farmers. (See The Grapes of Wrath.) The widows and orphans of the Depression were helped by a modest, inexpensive Social Security program.

An unfortunate wave of poverty inspired a small, last-resort governmental welfare program. The sight of down-and-out folks in the ghettos brought about a few subsidized Public Housing projects. And so on.

Vast legions of well-paid bureaucrats now administer these programs. Our agricultural policies involving land, water, surpluses, etc., could not have been dreamed up by a mad genius. Social Security alone has a larger budget than that of almost every nation in the world!

We’re into our third generation of single-mother welfare recipients. Those benighted housing projects are being torn down as fast as possible. Vast new "health care" bureaucracies may soon emerge. There exists a veritable alphabet soup of competing local, regional, state and federal Agencies, attempting to "take care of" everything imaginable.

Government solutions

Americans have gotten so used to this that we expect and demand a "government solution" for every problem. Politicians promise that they can "right every wrong." They and their allies consider each new program "progressive," and measure the "compassion" thus expressed in terms of how many billions of tax dollars are spent.

Frederic Bastiat replied: "As long as these ideas prevail, it is clear that the responsibility of government is enormous. It is burdened with everything, it undertakes everything, it does everything. [If] we are unfortunate, then government must bear the blame." He wrote this 155 years ago, and since then many governments have toppled due to unfulfilled promises. Conversely, many evils have been overlooked if they "kept the trains running on time."

Both certainly applied to the late USSR. Could it apply here? After the L.A. riots, most of the rioters polled declared: "The government doesn’t care about me enough." Most working folks hope the government -especially the IRS- ignores them!

"The government is mainly an expensive organization to regulate evildoers, and tax those who behave: government does little for

fairly respectable people except annoy them." - E.W. Howe

What’s in store for this overburdened nation? After the Constitution was written, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, "What have you given us?" He replied, "A republic, madam, if you can keep it." At that time, Alexander Tyler opined, "They will last until the public discovers they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury."

Many people are painfully aware of this. We hear talk of "cutting the budget." Several modern leaders have tried. This caused some painful dislocations, well-covered on TV. And it earned them unending blame and scorn. We, the voting public, must become informed, and strong-willed enough to "bite the bullet" on these tough issues.

Yet, the very people who benefit from government programs are also voters. That’s one reason the United States is a Republic, because we can elect people brave enough to run the government right, and keep it within proper bounds. (Read John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage for true examples.)

The public must reelect leaders who do the job well, no matter how painful it is. The people rarely get leaders any better than themselves!

Again we refer to the Divine Principle. It speaks of the special nature of democratic governments-that, as the people become more religious, their society and nation will automatically follow suit.

During my visits to Russia and Macedonia, I was surrounded by debate about "what system" they ought to adopt. Yet if the people do not respond, no system can be made to work. On the other hand, if the people are free, honest, and involved, practically any system will work out.

The United States is still the most successful and influential country in the world. At 200 years plus, it is still young, in historical terms. It could be that the best is yet to come!

Several Unificationist projects have defended world and American freedom, and taught widely about the American Constitution, as the best foundation for any government in history.

It is said, "If men were angels, government would not be necessary." But we are not, and no attempt at building Utopia has ever succeeded. Yet virtually all religions believe in, and speak of, a future Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, by whatever name.

The public debate is shifting. Few now believe that government pay-outs can continue -much less increase- indefinitely. Thousands of people cut loose by welfare reform have, in fact, found jobs. Several celebrities who advocate morality are becoming increasingly popular.

I’ve heard some excellent speculations about these issues, by Unificationists and others. If anyone has any thoughts, I’d love to hear from you. Paul Carlson, PO Box 74, San Lorenzo, CA 94580

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